March 24, 2020
I’ve been going to meetings for a long time. Why? Because I need to and ultimately realized I want to. How did that come to be? The day I surrendered to my alcoholism/addiction, I knew I was beaten in life. I knew I had run out of places to hide. I didn’t think I had anywhere to go. I was having psychotic episodes; hearing voices spewing negativity about what a mess I’d made of my life. I was taking in air yet felt I couldn’t breathe.
A series of events had taken place as I was racing to my bottom. One included a failed suicide attempt, thwarted by a three-year old boy who came to my aid at 3:00 AM. I was in a vacation rental home in Lake Tahoe where I had done some of my most manic drinking and drug use. He was sleepwalking in a large house and had walked through several rooms to come to my unexpected rescue. I didn’t know why he was there. Maybe he did. It’s just one of those program things we hear about, then discover for ourselves, and then get to share.
A few days later, I had retrieved my things from the home of a partner in yet another broken relationship. When I got home, I had sadness and desperation interrupted by a call out of the blue from a partying type friend of mine. We used to do a little non-habit-forming cocaine together. I hadn’t talked to him in a couple of years. He needed a fill-in for his softball team that night. For a moment, I romanticized. Playing sports and the get togethers afterward had always been part of the fun that drinking seemed to provide until it didn’t anymore. “Okay, John” I said. “Where do I meet you?” “I’ll come and pick you up,” he offered.
He arrived 45 minutes before game time. I was glad to see him. Years before, I had coached him in his freshman year in High School. After he grew up, we played softball with and against each other. I got into his car and after greeting him, was surprised by what appeared to be a certain calm about him. His eyes were bright and clear and being around him felt different. I asked him what he had been up to and was shocked to hear him say he had just had a two-year birthday in Alcoholics Anonymous. On my first birthday, he shared that it was an unexpected (to him) “flash” thought to call me.
The guy I was supposed to replace showed up for the game that night. So, I spent the night on the bench, which was not my way. That didn’t help; it increased my loneliness, which I thought impossible. When John drove me home, I went into the house and came back out with a couple of beers. Certainly, a beer would be okay to share with him, right? He politely refused. I cracked the can open and as I brought it to my mouth, the liquid burned as if it were acid. I spit it out. How weird was that? One of my roommates came out of the front door to say hello and passed me a joint. I tried to take a hit, but the taste was foul and burned as if I had taken in coffee that was way too hot. How weird was that? My mind started racing again and the voices were returning. I couldn’t tell anyone, especially John. I was his coach, don’t you know?
I went into the house and as I was walking down the hallway, I said out loud, “God help me. I can’t do this to myself anymore.” At the time, I didn’t realize that I had made an honest prayer. It was different than the deal-making prayers I had been making for years. They were something like, “If you give me this, I won’t do that. If you do this for me, I will do that. If you bail me out of this one, I’ll be a good servant, I won’t drink, I’ll be faithful” and so on. In my first 4th and 5th steps I came to realize that over the years, I had been helped a lot. And, I hadn’t kept up my part of the bargain. This prayer was different. I said it almost child-like and I meant it.
When I reached my room, I lay down on my bed. As if I had snapped my fingers, I woke up surprised to see it was morning. Outside my window a bird was in the tree looking in and chirping away. For a moment, I felt calm. I sensed something was different without having the vaguest idea what it was. Maybe it was my first look at a meaning for Grace.
That was February 16, 1988 and I haven’t had a drink or drug since. I began my journey in AA that week too after a call to my sister, Carole P., who had 12-stepped me more than 10 years before; Thank God. It was the beginning of a new life and I got to learn there is no lead-time in God’s answers to honest prayers.
Now that’s my story and I love reflecting on it and sharing it. Going to meetings gives me the opportunity to hear other people’s accounts of their spiritual experiences and awakenings. And, I like them a lot too. There is lots of time for reflection while we wait out this Covid-19 disease.
I started thinking about the thousands of people I have encountered and interacted with all these years. There is lots of hoopla about God doing this and God doing that for us. There is lots of banter about God is or isn’t. There are those of us who have trouble with God even though he doesn’t seem to have trouble with us and they make it through! And, there are lots of stout believers who stand tall in faith. Great, no problem with any of that here!
Then, a continuing thought kept popping into my mind. What if God needs help too? The longer any of us stay around the program, the more most of us get to know how precious sobriety is. We get to say, it’s not easy. We get to say it’s worth it. We get to understand that there is a dark side to life including in recovery and that there are times when we need a higher power as much as when we were new. We get to choose whether or not to commit to walk in the sunlight of the spirit. So, does God have the sane luxury when the pressure’s on? Maybe, maybe not.
Since that first awareness of my honest prayer, I have noted countless honest prayers’ power both from personal experience and from amazing and unexplained things. So, why not allow myself to guess that God could use some support right now? After all, if God is everything as I choose to believe, isn’t it possible that since he does so much for all of us, all of the time, that we can show our gratitude by sending him prayers to help bring light to the darkness we fear right now?
How about this: If the idea sounds reasonable to you, or if it doesn’t, and you are still willing to try it, bring the idea of supporting God to your Zoom meetings. Share the concept with your family and friends. Pray as a group to let God know we are with him. Pray on your own. Pray with your husband-wife-friend-pet. Pray for those you might not want to pray for. Pray for light against darkness. Make your prayers BIGGER. Make God BIGGER (we can do that, you know). Pray for doctors, nurses, scientists, researchers who are working tirelessly to eradicate the virus. Let God know we’ve got his back. After all, hasn’t he had yours?
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